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Athens prosecutor resigns after being found in contempt of court

By Joe Johnson

An assistant district attorney this week resigned from the Western Judicial Circuit DA's Office after a Superior Court judge held him in contempt of court for failing to follow the judge's order to make arrangements for a prisoner to appear in the judge's courtroom for a status conference concerning an alleged probation violation.

Jason Hasty, formerly a senior ADA, tendered his resignation on Wednesday, notifying DA Deborah Gonzalez that his resignation would be effective as of July 28 .

The contempt issue involved Fredrick Ashmore, who was convicted of first-degree burglary in October 2015 and sentenced to serve two years in confinement and eight years on probation.

The 36-year-old Elbert County resident has subsequently been arrested four times for probation violations, most recently on Jan. 23.

According to court records, Judge Lawton Stephens ordered the DA's Office on May 24 "to prepare a transport order to have the defendant present for the probation status conference" that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

When Ashmore failed to appear for the conference, the judge continued the proceeding and gave the prosecutor a dressing down in a contempt order that stated how "the trial court is authorized to inflict summary punishment for any disobedience of a court officer."

Additionally, Stephens said, "In order to purge himself of contempt Mr. Hasty is ordered to pay $200 to the Boys and Girls Club."

On Thursday the DA's Office issued the following statement:

"Our highest priority is always to protect victims and witnesses. That being said, we consistently hold this office and those that work here to the highest standard. In our commitment to transparency and accountability, some team members failed to meet that mission. This is an internal personnel matter to be handled by District Attorney Gonzalez and her leadership team in accordance with the HR policies established by this office and the county. Our office is committed to retaining prosecutors and staff that seek justice first for our victims and witnesses."

Hasty's departure leaves an office tha is budgeted for overt a dozen prosecutors with only five.

The DA also is using several prosecutorial "apprentices" who are University of Georgia School off Law students.

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